Future of Photos: Doubles, Glossy, Matte, or JPEG?

In this left picture of Ryan and Teresa Valdez Klein, I upload photos (GPS tagged with location and time) in real time from my mobile phone using Shozu, and share it with my network on Flickr, Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook, and now my blog.

Like some of you, I’m still fascinated how digital natives interpret media, communications compared to boomers. Me? I’m in the middle watching it all go down.

Just a few days ago, I compared who had more data about my friend Teresa Valdez Klein, Facebook or the US Government. In the comments, it was almost unanimously the US Government, although interestingly enough, most of the data about her in Facebook is opt-in, rather opt-out.

Do you remember the days of taking your black physical rolls of film to Longs or CVS, waiting a few days or hours to get them developed? There were always risks: hoping we didn’t get an over exposed photo, losing the roll in one’s purse or backpack, or forgetting to pick them up all together? For generation Y, that’s no longer a problem.

Take for example in my recent lunch with Teresa (interestingly I found out that she was in NY the same time I was via Friendfeed) she mentioned her younger siblings were growing up in a world where photos were published instantly to the web from mobile devices –this is a native activity to them.

I spoke with my trusted confidant Jennifer Jones (host of Marketing Voices Podcst) yesterday, when it comes to pictures, her son lives in the digital world. I’ve been to Jennifer’s beautiful home, which has nicely framed pictures of the family and kids from all stages of their life. Like any good mother, Jennifer offered her son to take framed family photos off to college. While it’s often un-cool for any kid to take family photos to college, his honest retort was “I don’t need to Mom, I have Facebook”.

He went on to explain that Facebook photos were more current and ‘real’. I’d add that those photos can be transplanted wherever her son goes, as long as he has access to the internet. Furthermore, they are social objects and assets that are being shared in the nexus of his network, perhaps far more valuable location than ‘on the shelf’.

We start to see a connection of the physical and digital universe. At first positioned as ‘executive desk’ gadgets, the Digital Frame continues to get more popular. I personally have no desire for it, and would only accept it as a gift, never buy it. A few reasons,, to me my sharing is on the web, which I can access from my mobile phone. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges of these devices is that many are not internet devices, and a majority of them require physical storage changes –what a hassle.

So where are you when it comes to photos?

  • Print or Digital?
  • Instant or Later?
  • Online or Framed?
  • Self Contained or Shared Online?
  • Doubles/Glossy/Matte, or JPEG?
  • 27 Replies to “Future of Photos: Doubles, Glossy, Matte, or JPEG?”

    1. Interesting observations Jeremiah. A few responses:

      I received one of the digital frames as a gift. For a while it was cool seeing the change in scene, but eventually it became very distracting and annoying -one more attention getter. However, if this particular brand had the option of switching only once a day –I think I would have stuck with it. The image was clear, and it is nice having a random picture isolated from my computer screen.

      I rarely print physical photos these days.

      I received an email from a friend this morning in panic: Do I know about data recovery? She had updated her mac and rebooted to infinite spins –and no backup. Her main concern –I think I may have lots all the photos of my son. 🙁

      Lastly, I’m not sure how much I truly enjoy looking at pictures. I definitely don’t enjoy how trying to obsessively ‘capture’ moments takes me away from the real experience. Maybe I’ll enjoy walking down memory lane later in life –or maybe it will just be a heartache that replaces my much richer imagination.


    2. Leif

      Data management, you’re right, another big point I should have brought up.

      I pay flickr two bucks a month to host my photos, I just realized, I don’t even back them up anywhere else, so if I lose them on the web, they’re gone forever.

      Maybe it’s time to start printing?

    3. I agree with everything you said about the shift towards digital photos and sharing them through social networks, but I still feel like we shouldn’t discount the value of physical photos. Just like Facebook is a great way to take advantage of the social side of pictures, having physical photos incorporated into your living space is also a powerful social asset. The closest digital example might be the wallpaper you use on your computer– when someone sees your wallpaper of choice, it enhances the personal nature of the computer and makes a statement about your interests.

    4. I still print photos, but only the really good ones.

      Recently I found my old film camera, and it still has a half-used roll of film in it. I haven’t tried to develop them yet, but it did remind me of the pleasant surprise of getting back a great photo from a moment you had forgotten all about!

    5. Great post Jeremiah. I have been into photography for many years.

      I started a website Jungle Photos back in 2000 (gasp!) to showcase my pictures from the Amazon rainforest. The website has since expanded to include the Galapagos Islands and Africa. It also provides educational resources and a host of related information.

      But all the hundreds of photos on that website were shot on slide film, processed, scanned and then uploaded to the website by FTP. That process was channeled so systematically that I have not effectively transitioned to digital. I’d have to redesign the website from the ground up!

      But at least I have all my photos (well, the best ones anyway) in a variety of media: physical slide, on my hard drive at home and on my ISPs server.

      For those answering your questions, my guess is that it will really depend on the event being recorded and the intended end use. For example, in recent years, I have used both digital and slide cameras when shooting wildlife and nature. If I want hi-res, even the best digital are not quite yet to the same standard as slide. (I read somewhere that good slide film is the equivalent of about 17 megapixels.)

      But I like my digital to shoot more spontaneous moments, especially in challenging conditions–the digital is a bit more forgiving.


    6. now I can only think about wasting energy…don’t know why but the annoying thing called digital frame leads me directly to this 🙂

      2nd: I enjoy having pictures stored everywhere over the internet but when it comes to being at home I prefer a nice silver or wooden frame next to my bed. It gives the nice warm personal touch we are all looking for.

      By the way nice blog. Paul Beck just recommended it during a presentation today:-)

    7. good points, but how about “and” rather than “or?” Print *and* digital; online *and* off.

      personal example: my wife and I both have digital cameras and we take tons of pics. we store/share them on our computers, on facebook, flickr, etc. but we archive them too: my wife uploads pics to the local camera shop’s server to get physical prints and then creates scrapbooks; I back up our memories by burning the files to a DVD every month or so.

    8. My photos definitely “live” in the digital realm, but can be “accessed” in many different ways, similar to the Web 2.0 model of data living in the cloud and being accessed in multiple ways.

      My photos start off digital, are transferred on my computer, are then edited and selections made. From there they’re transferred to Flickr, which I consider t be my “album”, or main repository. After that, they can be used in several ways. Printed, as my girlfriend likes having physical photos (and oddly enough, I like the frames). They can be accessed using a web browser or iPhone to show to friends on the moves. I can display them on my Apple TV in HD. As long as there is access to Flickr, I can get to my photos – this is one reason I don’t use FB Photos much (apart from not liking FB) – I don’t want to have another repository for my photos.

      Lastly, I do want to get a digital photo frame, but ONLY if it can access my photos from Flickr or an RSS feed. This way it can remain always up to date, and would look nice somewhere in the house. Unfortunately, the wireless / rss feature is still missing from the majority of frames on the market.

    9. I have a photo of my wife from when we were dating. More than just a record of that time, the photograph itself is a physical artifact that connects me to our life together fifteen years ago. I really want to scan it in and post the image to Flickr so I can do all the wonderful things with it that the Web makes possible, but losing the physical object would break my heart.

      It is strange being someone “in the middle” of this transformation. I love being able to take as many photos as I want, write as many essays as I want, make as many recording as I want, and receive those things from other people, without having to fill up my tiny apartment with stuff that needs to be stored and dusted and moved when we go to a new place. I love that everything I create can be shared with everyone I know (and don’t know.)

      But having all of that material exist only as files on the Web gives me an unpleasant feeling of disconnectedness. To the extent that my life is lived online it feels weirdly dreamlike: it could all vanish in an instant. I find myself longing for something more substantial to root me in physical reality. (More than once I’ve told my wife that I’m tempted to give up all this social media stuff and become a carpenter.)

    10. I take all of my photos with a digital camera, so it’s very easy to upload them to my blog and put them on Facebook. However, when I take photos that I truly love, I want to show them off and see them more regularly. For those, I print them, frame them, and hang them on my wall.

      I haven’t found a use for a digital frame yet, but I do have my favorite photos circulate as backgrounds on my laptop. Most of the time, I find them enjoyable, although I turn off the feature when it gets distracting.

      Instant photos: never. Glossy or matte depends on the look of the print. My laptop monitor is matte.

    11. I love being able to store and share my photos online (and I do back up my computer weekly) but I don’t necessarily want to have to go to the computer to enjoy them. For instance, I have wonderful framed prints of family throughout the house and just glancing at one for even a few seconds can make me smile. It’s a quick pick-me-up just sitting there waiting to be noticed!

    12. Wade, I have these photos too, in fact, I’m the holder of 4 generations of Owyang photos, I cherish them, and they are kept in a safe place in my house.

      I also have scanned many of them

    13. I’m Gen X too, and I have to say I love the digital photography transformation. I take quite a few pictures on my DSLR and store them on an external drive. I also use my mac to export selected photos to a family website via iWeb and hosted by .mac. I can do this with drag-and-drop features of Aperture, but you can do the same with iPhoto. That said, I also like to print and frame my photos using a semi-pro photo printer.

      This is a great time for the amateur photographer; so much power for little investment. This is also causing a real shift in the business, in which skilled amateurs are taking business away from the pros. I’ve recently read in the Photo District News that big stock photo outfits like Getty (and their photogs) are losing business to amateurs and semi-pros who are self-publishing and selling their photos on sites like istockphoto.

    14. Digitals are but snapshots, film with it’s near hundred year history, ain’t dead yet, and will remain the true art. And the Walmartty Print-Out-Digital Kiosks, are always super busy. So for the few actually worth keeping, people still put on paper.

    15. It might be interesting for a band to sell digital frames not only featuring photos, but perhaps storing their latest album as well. I could see that being a hit with these teens who’ve grown up in the digital age. Has Hannah Montana thought of that one? Course that wouldn’t be very sustainable … but it might be an interesting way for a fledgling industry of greedy money suckers to boost the bottom line.

    16. …and another piece of the puzzle..You take your photo, upload it with ShoZu to all of your social networks, write a little story about it, and here I am an employee of ShoZu checking out my daily dose of Technorati and Google Alerts who doesn’t know you at all, but stopping by to say hello and happy to see you are enjoying our service 🙂

      That’s actually a very scary fact you uncovered about the amount of information Facebook holds compared the government. Yikes. Tempted to go chop my FB profile down a notch or two.



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    18. My best suggestion is to scan the photos & distribute the CD’s/Dvd’s to relatives for extra safety. Make sure that the ‘who & what’ are documented. I’ve created heritage albums for both sides of my family & my mom treasures them (they’re filled with genealogy info too & she had gathered all that info).

      With the advent of digital – storage is becoming a much bigger issue. I’m watching the online data storage becoming more of a necessity as memory keepers (most women) take zillions of photos.

    19. I was JUST thinking about this the other day… about how I should probably get to printing many of my photos. Too many of them are online and some sporadically on different sites. What happens when I lose them on the web? To back up all the photos within the past year – it would take quite long and the numbers are growing… guess everyone should dedicate a day to it. A “spring cleaning” of digital photographs if you will.

    20. Jeremiah, My son Mason who is 19 agrees with the others here who believe that physical photos are a thing of the past. To me, they represent “comfort” the same way that reading a book on paper does or the newspaper in print rather than books on tape or a newspaper on the web. I like to physically touch the product. But we are striving to be a paperless society so maybe physical photos will go the way of the rotary phone someday. For me, i keep printing them out and framing them!

    21. I value print and digital photos. Sentimenatal photo albums which chronicle vacacation, special occasions, etc are well kept.

      I am also learning to appreciate the ease to sharing photos via Facebook.

    22. … I can give you a pretty honest answer as COO and co-founder of Fotki.com:
      1. Digital without questions – people upload many tens of millions of photos on Fotki annually but print only several million per year
      2. Both Instant and not (Later), even the same users – some things require immediacy, others can be nostalgic items.
      3. Online, without any questions. The % of people interested in “Framed” is a tiny fraction of 1.
      4. Highly depends not only on a person but also on a situation – I love sharing pictures of animals or cities, but there are some private photos that are not for strangers (kids, certain parties, etc.) We offer private albums (even the fact of their existence is hidden), but only about 1-5% photos end up there, so, mostly it is Shared – for those who go online.
      5. See #1 as to JPEG or not (resolutely digital – for online users, that is), as to Glossy/Matte – a bit more on a glossy side for most.

    23. I must forward this comment by saying that I do not work for Chumby Industries (www.chumby.com).

      I agree with you Jeremmiah in the change of photographic trends just in our generation. It’s an amazing time for science and technology.

      The solution I’ve come across for digital photos is to use my Chumby. It’s an internet connected device that has access to all our favorite parts of the web. It connects to flickr, facebook, myspace, etc.

      Again. I do not work for Chumby, but think they have a very interesting product that serves a need that people may not recognized can be fulfilled yet (a la TiVo, GPS, etc.).

      Keep up the great blog!

    24. This is such a cool story, I believe that the proof is all around us, and modern science and the massive increase in knowledge shows even more proof of a higher being!

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